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Official ground-breaking marks beginning of natural gas pipeline project

By Pauline Kerr

The official ground-breaking ceremony for the Southern Bruce Natural Gas Distribution Project marked the successful completion of one part of the project – getting approvals and agreements in place and the project going, and the start of the next phase – construction.
The ground-breaking took place near the intersection of Bruce Road 20 and Sideroad 30, just east of Tiverton, on Tuesday, July 30. On hand for the ceremony were Stuart Lee, Epcor president and CEO; Lisa Thompson, MPP Huron-Bruce and government and consumer services minister; and the mayors of the three member municipalities – Mitch Twolan of Huron-Kinloss, Anne Eadie of Kincardine, and Steve Hammell of Arran-Elderslie. Also present were several members of the respective councils both past and present, as well as Epcor representatives and their project partners Aecon Utilities and Stantec Consulting Ltd.
Susannah Robinson, Epcor vice-president for Ontario, served as MC. Her statement, that the project has been a long time coming has finally reached this stage, thanks to the mayors of the three municipalities and the provincial government working together, was echoed repeatedly throughout the ceremony.
Lee, who travelled from Edmonton for the event, commented that since he took over as CEO in 2015, “the first project to be approved is this one.” He said how gratifying it was to “finally see shovels in the ground,” something that couldn’t have happened without the support of the mayors of the member municipalities. “We couldn’t have asked for better partners,” Lee said.
To Thompson, he said, “Your unwavering support made a real difference.”
He assured the municipal leaders, “We’re here for the long term. This is an essential utility that will serve the communities for decades and decades.”
In a later interview, Lee noted that natural gas is an essential service that’s going to make a real difference to the community. “It’s going to be good for businesses and residents.”
Thompson, who came to the event despite it being vacation time, said, “It’s a pleasure to be here for the official sod turning … it’s my way of tipping my hat to the three local municipalities who did not give up. Thank you for never giving up … rural Ontario matters.”
She spoke on how good it was to see work going on in the ditches on her way to the sod turning, adding, “We need to be turning on all cylinders.”
Thompson concluded by saying, “We finally got here!”
Twolan looked at the piles of pipe on the property and the shiny new shovels ready for the official ceremony, and quipped, “Who’d a thunk it? … Here we are.”
He thanked his municipal counterparts and others who played instrumental roles in bringing the project to this point.
Eadie said, “When I was coming up the road today, I actually had a tear in my eye.” She welcomed all those present to Kincardine, and added, “I’ve been dreaming of this day.”
Eadie spoke of how the mayors of Kincardine, Huron-Kinloss and Arran-Elderslie met every two weeks to get and keep the project on track – three separate councils over three terms. “We came together as a unit to make our vision a reality … it’s a textbook case for collaboration and co-operation.”
She made special mention of Paul Eagleson and Larry Kraemer, the CAOs and staff, consultant Mark Rodger, and Thompson. She said to the MPP, “You promised us it would happen and it did happen.”
To Epcor, Eadie said, “Thank you for your patience and expertise,” and concluded with, “Our journey is complete, now we celebrate!”
Hammell, who has served on council for nine years, commented that part of Arran-Elderslie (Tara) has had natural gas for years, and it’s been good to be able to tell the rest of the municipality, “We’re going to save you a lot of money shortly.” That time has arrived.
In thanking all those who worked so hard to make the project happen, he said to Epcor representatives, “It’s great to partner with a company with a vision.”

It’s official – natural gas project finally underway

by Pauline Kerr

Word came through late last week that the final hurdle has been crossed for the project that will bring natural gas to the area. Shovels are already in the ground.
Epcor announced that the Ontario Energy Board has approved its “Leave to Construct” application; work on the Southern Bruce Natural Gas Project began this week.
“This is an exciting time for Epcor. We’d like to thank the mayors of the Municipality of Kincardine, the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie and the Township of Huron-Kinloss for their commitment over the past several years to bringing natural gas to their communities. Natural gas will bring many benefits to the area, including lower fuel costs,” said Stuart Lee, Epcor Utilities Inc. president and CEO.
Kincardine Mayor Anne Eadie couldn’t be happier.
“It’s very exciting,” Eadie said. “It’s been a long journey, and I’m thrilled to make it to this stage.”
The project will be completed in phases. The first involves building a pipeline from Dornoch in Grey County to the Bruce Energy Centre. Plans are to complete that phase this year. Come spring, the second phase will begin, bringing natural gas to Kincardine, Tiverton and area. Phase three, to be completed in 2021, will complete the project by extending the pipeline to Ripley, Lucknow, Point Clark, Lurgan Beach, Paisley and Chesley.
“We were thrilled to get the approval,” said Susannah Robinson, Epcor’s vice-president for Ontario.
As far as she’s concerned, the company is on-track to deliver natural gas to its first customers by the end of this year.
As of Monday, the process of putting down pipe began. Robinson said a lot of the work will take place at the side of the road. There should be little disruption of traffic. “Our construction partner Aecon (Group) is well versed in this.” People who’ll be affected by construction will be notified ahead of time.
She noted that people who want to know more about the project can check the website; there’s even a calculator to help them assess what their savings would be by switching to natural gas (epcor.com/southernbruce, epcor.com/SavingsCalculator, 1-888-765-2256 or gas@epcor).
For residential customers, Epcor anticipates an annual energy savings of about $750 to $1,800 per household. Businesses and farms stand to realize substantial savings, making their operations more cost-effective.
“Rates are presently being finalized,” Robinson said. “A big plus for customers is the fact they’re set for 10 years, providing stability.”
Epcor worked closely over several years with the OEB; municipal leaders in Arran-Elderslie, Huron-Kinloss and Kincardine; and two provincial governments. One of the biggest hurdles to date was receiving grant money from Ontario’s new government, Robinson said.
She credits the mayors, council members and staff who worked tirelessly, over many years, to get the project going and keep it moving forward.
“The mayors worked so hard, and showed innovation,” Robinson said. “Kudos to them.”
“On behalf of The Township of Huron-Kinloss Council and our residents I want to thank Epcor for their commitment on achieving this incredible milestone. I also want to thank Kincardine and Arran- Elderslie councils past and present for their continued support to see this project through and Mark Rodger for his guidance. Together we have achieved our goal to bring natural gas to our communities,” said Bruce County Warden and Huron-Kinloss Mayor Mitch Twolan.
Eadie, too, gives a lot of credit to the people who have worked together since 2011 to make this project happen.
“All three townships … it was unanimous … they all wanted to keep driving it forward,” said Eadie.
She gives special credit to consultant Mark Rodger of Borden Ladner Gervais who came aboard in about 2014.
According to Eadie, the thing that kept everyone on-track with the project was the need to attract more business to the respective municipalities. There will be significant savings not only for residential customers but for schools, municipal buildings and more.
Eadie noted the one question she was asked most often was, ‘do you think we’ll really get natural gas?’
She said, “For some it will mean having food at the end of the month; for others, it will be a vacation … there will be huge savings for the agricultural sector.”
For that, she was more than willing to go to hearings, attend standing committee meetings, lobby cabinet ministers, hold open houses, attend extra meetings and go through the regulatory process. “It’s been interesting,” she said, adding, “I can’t stress enough the collaborative effort – the expertise of staff and council, the work of the mayors of the three municipalities, the consultant … It’s an amazing example of co-operation.”
She credits the local press for getting crucial information to the public. Community support for the project has been tremendous, Eadie said.
“After all the hard work, we’re delighted to have natural gas coming to our community. Thank you to Epcor, and to council and staff, for their support in bringing this project to fruition,” said Mayor Steve Hammell of Arran-Elderslie.